KINGSTON – As they do once a month, Bart Stenberg and a friend drove down from Rockford to have breakfast in Kingston last Saturday.
"We saw they were having corned beef and cabbage and we had to stop," he said. "I've had it five times this week. This is the best I've had."
More than 300 others joined them in the 48th annual corned beef and cabbage fundraiser sponsored by the Willard Aves American Legion Post 1010, which was held at both the Five Points Pub and, for those who preferred a quieter atmosphere, the Kingston Friendship Center across the street.
Post Commander Dean Miller said proceeds from the fundraiser support local youth sports teams, three college scholarships – two for Genoa-Kingston and the other for Hiawatha high schools – and other projects along Route 72.
In all, diners consumed 500 pounds of corned beef, 200 pounds of potatoes, 50 pounds of carrots and three dozen loaves of marble and rye breads, all of which was donated.
"It takes an entire week," said Norm Sester of Kirkland, noting that volunteer Scott Sandfford takes a week off of work to help. He's one of about two dozen volunteers of all ages.
Sester, who has been cooking the meals for the last 10 years in a huge kettle at his home, said the one thing he's learned is to not change the recipe for the cabbage. He tried that a couple of years ago.
"They eat it like candy," he said.
"This is our biggest fundraiser," Miller said, adding that it takes a lot of work to put on the event. Planning began the first week of January. "We're all tired tomorrow."
Fortunately, all their efforts don't go unnoticed.
"We came last year and it was very good, so we decided to come again," patron Mary Mollet said.
"And it's for a good cause," added Paul Mollet. He probably had the best reason of all for going.
"We were hungry."